Digestive Enzymes: What They Are, What They Do, and How They Affect Stomach Health

Do you often experience abdominal pain or other stomach-related problems such as constipation, diarrhea, reflux (heartburn) and so on? Have you gained excessive weight and/ or have difficulty losing weight despite keeping a strict check on your diet? Or worse still, are you losing weight without making any conscious efforts on your behalf?

If even one of the above conditions seems to fit your case, then beware! It might be indicative of a problem with your digestive system.

Most people treat such stomach issues very lightly until they become too severe to be ignored. Unfortunately, at least 1 in every 5 American suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and most of them are unaware of how it can be treated. Based on diagnosis, doctors normally suggest lifestyle changes (exercising, healthy eating, reducing stress etc) as the most non-invasive form of treatment. Despite this, many patients doubt the effectiveness of these changes and prefer going on heavy medications instead.  This is usually because they are oblivious of digestive enzymes present naturally in the body and the beneficial effects that they have on stomach health.

Digestive Enzymes and their Purpose in the Human Body

You might already know that enzymes are biological catalysts that support various functions in our body. Digestive enzymes are those that specifically aid digestion and therefore, support gut health.

Various organs in our body produce digestive enzymes including the pancreas, liver, small intestine, and stomach as well as the salivary glands located underneath the tongue. The main purpose of these enzymes is to break down the large food molecules into much smaller ones so that they can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to the required cells within the body.

Types of Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are of different types – each type helps break down different food molecules to deliver the nutrients to the body. The three main classes are as follows.

  1. Proteolytic Enzymes – needed to digest protein
  2. Amylases – required to break down carbohydrates
  3. Lipases – needed to break down large fat molecules

Proteolytic enzymes like pepsin are found in gastric juices and produce polypeptides from protein molecules. Amylases are found in the saliva and pancreatic juices and their primary aim is to break down large starch molecules into a smaller compound called maltose. Similarly, lipases are produced in the pancreas and helps in digesting fatty acids.

Together, these digestive enzymes turn the complex food particles into useful substances like amino acids, glucose, nucleic acids, good cholesterol, and fatty acids that are either stored up by the body or use in other biological reactions to keep the organs healthy and strong.

Digestive Enzymes and Stomach Health

By enabling complete and proper breakdown of the food we eat, digestive enzymes do not just alleviate stomach discomfort and prevent constipation, but also improve nutrient absorption and prevent deficiencies. Although further research is still needed to say this for sure, but clinical trials show promising results for the use of supplemental digestive enzymes in  treating IBS.

Foods That Aid in Relieving Gastrointestinal Problems

Do you hear that sound coming from your stomach? It’s either your body telling you “feed me” or you are about to experience some stomach cramps. Our digestive tract is one of the most important body parts that maintain our health. It absorbs nutrients, breaks down food, and eliminates waste. If your digestive system does perform its functions properly, then you are probably a walking talking bin consuming and storing food.

Cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and excessive flatulence are a few signs that indicate your digestive system is failing to break down foods in the stomach and creating an acidic environment. This leads to conditions such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, and heartburn.

So what leads you into this corner? Lack of food items containing probiotics or fiber. Following are some of the best foods that you can include in your daily diet to improve your digestion:

Yogurt

Yogurt is right at the top of the list when it comes to consuming foods rich in probiotics. Probiotics boost regulation of certain cells in the body that maintain the body’s internal environment. The probiotics in yogurt balance the ratio of good and bad bacteria in the stomach that helps with issues such as diarrhea and constipation. Not all yogurts fulfill the probiotics requirements. Look for one that has active and live cultures.

Chia Seeds

When it comes to consuming more fiber, Chia seed are the best source. When absorbed in water or milk, they take a gelatin-like shape in the stomach. Chia seeds assume the function of probiotics. The fiber from this food is consumed by the gut’s beneficial bacteria. This boosts healthy bacteria growth, which leads to healthy digestion. Moreover, fiber in a good and controlled amount promotes healthy stools and bowel regularity.

Beets

Another great source of fiber is beetroot. A cup of beets contains 3.5gms of fiber. It adds size to the stool, which improves digestion. The good thing about beets is that you can roast it, eat it raw in salad, or pickle it. If you don’t like the taste of beets, then try the green smoothie trend. Add a bunch of fruits and vegetables in a blender, a healthy dollop of yoghurt, honey, and some almonds and mix away. This will help mask the smell of beets.

Bone Broth

Including a bowl of roasted veggies in your diet is all well and good but one can only eat the same thing so much. One option you can explore is bone broth. This light soup is made by putting chicken or beef connective tissues and bones in a pot filled with water and, allowing it to simmer for a long time. The gelatin in bone broth comes from amino acids such as Glycine and glutamine. They bind to the digestive tracts fluid and allow food to pass easily.

There are a number of other food items too you can try such as salmon, kefir, sauerkraut, Kimchi, miso, apples, whole grains, papaya, etc. With so many options available to you, experiment with them at breakfast and dinner. Why not take out simple recipes and try them at least once a week.

Digestive Enzymes to Promote Optimal Digestion

It’s important to get the best health benefits from the food you consume. The nutrients these foods provide are essential for your body. However, there are times when we consume the right amount of nutrients, but the body still lacks particular nutrients. Seems like an anomaly, right?

Well, it’s not so uncommon. The body is a large organism where different organs work together to make digestion possible. The most important task that these organs perform is to help absorb the food. Even if you eat the food, it has to be broken into a simpler form for the body to absorb it easily.

The element that’s important for this process is digestive enzymes. They help to break down food molecules into easily absorbed substances, allowing the body to generate energy from them. So unless you have an abundance of digestive enzymes, your body won’t be able to break down food, leading to a series of digestive disorders.

If you want to escape the hassle of these digestive issues, it’s recommended that you include foods that are high in natural digestive enzymes. They will aid the body in food absorption, promoting optimal digestion.

Digestive enzymes are divided into three main groups, which have further classes. The three main groups of enzymes are as follows:

  • Proteases: Works on breaking down proteins into amino acids and small peptides.
  • Lipases: Works on breaking fat into fatty acids and glycerol molecules.
  • Amylases: Works on breaking carbs into simple sugar

So let’s get started on the list so you can make the right decisions for your body.

·        Pineapple

This tropical fruit is rich in digestive enzymes called bromelain. This grip of digestive enzymes aids the absorption of proteins. Bromelain is also known to reduce the chances of developing cancer. What makes it even more unique is its strong anti-inflammatory properties.

·        Bananas

Everybody knows bananas are rich in potassium, but that’s not the only benefit that this fruit provides. They contain two groups of enzymes, amylase and maltase, which are used to break down carbohydrates and malt sugar, respectively.

·        Mango

This is another tropical fruit that has made it to the list. Mangoes are rich in amylase enzymes, which become more active as the fruit ripens, which also causes the sweetness of the fruit. Mangoes help to break down carbs so that the body can easily absorb them. If you want to benefit from the properties of amylase enzymes, make sure you chew your food properly since the compound is also present in your saliva.

·        Honey

Everybody’s favorite natural food just got even better. As it turns out, honey isn’t just a great weight loss solution but is also high in 4 classes of digestive enzymes; diastases, amylases, invertases and proteases. You can readily avail these benefits if you opt for raw honey. Processed honey undergoes many processes that can alter it, especially ones that contain heat because it can destroy digestive enzymes.

So there you have it. This list will help you include natural digestive enzymes in your diet, making sure that you have optimal digestive health.

Digestive System – How Healthy Aging Affects Your Metabolism

Feel that rumbling sound in your stomach? It might be hunger or it might be the first indication that you need to start eating clean. Here’s something you probably know but never thought about: as you age, every part of your body—brain, heart, bones, and digestive system— gets affected.

Your body functions start to slow down and your digestive tract stops working as efficiently as it once used to. This is because the small intestine and large intestine’s muscles get weaker and stiffer. The tissues get damaged and cell formation is slow, which causes a number of problems. These include:

  • Fecal incontinence
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Gas
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Amongst these, the one problem that most seniors experience as they go past 65 is GERD. This causes problems between the stomach and esophagus, which causes acid indigestion and heartburn.

Aging and Digestion

Gastroparesis

People who suffer from diabetes usually have problems with their bowel movements. When this problem escalates, it affects the digestive tract and causes Gastroparesis. This disease delays the time taken by the stomach to clear out its contents, which causes nausea and bloating.

Artery Blockage

When blood to the digestive tract decreases, the bowel movement gets affected and causes severe cramps.

Hypertension and Arthritis

Both these diseases require high doses of medication that can cause problems in the digestive tract.

Preserving Digestive Health

Chew Food Slowly and Properly

The enzyme amylase in our mouth is what breaks down food for easy digestion. As you age, the production of amylase decreases, which is why it necessary to chew your food slowly.

Eat Smaller Meals

Increasing age can cause a loss of appetite. Since your stomach’s elasticity is no longer the same as it used to be and the speed of digestion decreases, it’s better to eat smaller meals. Eat as often as you want but make sure the meals are not that heavy and are more nutritious.

Keep Up With the Fluid Intake

Peristalsis is known as muscle contractions that push food along your digestive tract. When you get older, these muscles weaken and the process slows down. This causes the food to sit longer in your colon, which results in constipation. By staying well hydrated, the stool softens and passes more easily from your digestive tract.

Monitor Your Lactose Production

In seniors, when the production of the enzyme lactase decreases, they start experiencing stomach cramps. In some cases, they even experience diarrhea. This is why it is important to get yourself checked early to find out if you are lactose intolerant. Lack of milk, the most important source of calcium, can have devastating effects on the body. So, make sure that your diet is balanced to avoid any digestion problems.

If you are not following a healthy diet or for some reason are not able to, the amount of healthy bacteria in your body decreases. This is why doctors recommend doing a course of probiotics to relieve your body of all the toxins and bring it back to a healthy state.

Top Rated Professional Supplements (Part 1)

Sometimes, keeping up with a healthy diet is not enough. There comes a time when your body requires more nourishment, which can only be achieved through supplements. There are thousands of supplements available online but choosing the right one is crucial to your health.

In the past years, the required intake of vegetables and fruits recommended by professionals has changed. According to CDC, one in only ten adults meets the required federal vegetable or fruit recommendations. This makes supplements a natural and cost effective way to boost the immune system and keep yourself healthy.

To help you get the best out of your supplements, we have found the top rated professional supplements that will help you live longer and healthier:

XYMOGEN

Founded in 2003, XYMOGEN has been transforming the lives of people. The company uses exclusive professional formulas to distinguish its supplements from other supplement brands. Provided to healthcare professionals, XYMOGEN is mostly prescribed, as they are a new generation of supplements and care must be exercised when choosing one for any illness. One of the reasons XYMOGEN is highly praised in the healthcare industry is because it not just provides supplements for the body but for the brain too through its line of supplements created specifically for neurological disorders. Following are a few of the supplements that offer support for:

  • Detoxification
  • Cell-Life Regulation
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Immune System
  • Relaxation and Sleep
  • Bone
  • Health
  • Blood Sugar

MARCO PHARMA

MARCO PHARMA was established in 1983 by a German Naturopath, Dr. Marx. He conducted seminars and lectures to teach healthcare practitioners how to administer German therapies. By 1991, MARCO PHARMA was well known in the US and thus began distribution of its supplements internationally. The supplements provided by MARCO PHARMA are advised by trained professionals who are leading authorities in acupuncture, homeopathy, Electro-acupuncture, herbal medicine, natural modalities, clinical ecology and a few other naturopathic disciplines. The company has 4 lines of different supplements, which include:

  • Homeopathic and Herbal Remedies: Supplementing and healing
  • Pacific Island Herbals: Allows you to produce vegetation in nutrient-rich soil, which gives you potent medicinal benefits
  • Ionized Trace Minerals: Development and normal growth, repairs and heals wounds and regulates the body’s absorption mechanism
  • Additional Homeopathic and Herbal Remedies: Proteolytic enzymes and other products that support the body’s functionality

Metagenics

Established in 1983, Metagenics has a unique approach to healthcare supplements. They came up with the revolutionary idea that genes are not the only driving force behind our health. This led them to create nutritional supplements that increase people’s quality of life. The company uses pure ingredients, which are gluten-free, non-GMO and vegetarian products. The six areas/functions of the body that their supplements help improve are:

  • Immune health and function
  • Gastrointestinal health
  • Cardio metabolic health
  • Healthy blood glucose
  • Muscle, bone and joint health
  • Neurological

Along with health supplements, Metagenics also offers nutritional supplements, some of which are for:

  • Detox
  • Enzymes
  • Omega 3s
  • Probiotics
  • Ketogenic

Healthcare supplements provided by these companies are quite potent and therefore, are only offered to healthcare professionals. So, if you are playing to get on a healthy track to keep yourself fit, then visit the nearest healthcare professional and take advantage of these supplements.

Clearing the Facts: What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are bacteria plain and simple!

Yes, bacteria that lives in your body and defends it against infectious diseases. Probiotics are found in all types of foods and are also available in the form of pills. Think of them as “good” bacteria that provide balance with the bad bacteria present in your body.

Probiotics promote a healthy immune system and aids in digestion. These microorganisms are already present in the body and in a large amount. However, the ratio of good and bad depends on your lifestyle.

Did you know that there are more bacteria in your body than human cells? The ratio stands at 3:1 and this is the reason why you will find various types of probiotics when you will visit a pharmacy.

There are more than hundred different types of probiotics and a few serve different purposes. Made for specific conditions, each probiotics contains a particular blend of microbes that help with daily health problems.

Function of Probiotics

Probiotics are primarily known as the remedy for various gut ailments. They have gained reputation in the medical industry as the medicine that help people tame diarrhea.

Took a visit to a country where they had sketchy water?

Probiotics will help you get back to your normal routine!

Probiotics may even help you treat problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, vaginal and urinary health problems, receding gums and teeth and chronic digestive issues.

Who Can Take Probiotics?

The short answer is: Anyone can take probiotics. Even when you are healthy or don’t have any struggles relating to your body, probiotics can be very beneficial. If you are gluten free or are following a special diet, you are neglecting these microorganisms.

At this point, your body might need an intervention but the struggle to maintain your weight can obscure this. So, get in touch with a doctor and come with a diet plan that will help you achieve your goal, as well as keep up your probiotics count. Often, this can lead to a healthy outcome and after that, you won’t be requiring any probiotics.

7 “Friendly” Bacteria

The most common friendly bacteria that your body needs in order to keep up with the demands of your changing body include:

  1. Saccharomyces boulardii
  2. Lactobacillus bulgarius
  3. Lactobacillus acidophilus
  4. Streptococcus thermophilus
  5. Bacillus subtilis
  6. Bifidobacterium bifidum
  7. Lactobacillus reuteri

13 Foods Rich in Probiotics

Certain foods such as yoghurt and yeast are extremely rich in probiotics. In fact, yoghurt is rated as the number one food that is the richest in probiotics. A yoghurt cup a day can help you keep your body healthy and protect your immune system. Following are 13 other types of foods that are rich in probiotics:

  1. Kefir
  2. Kombucha
  3. Natto
  4. Coconut Kefir
  5. Sauerkraut
  6. Salted Gherkin Pickles
  7. Raw Cheese
  8. Kvass
  9. Apple Cider Vinegar
  10. Brine-Cure Olives
  11. Miso
  12. Tempeh
  13. Dark Chocolate

Now that you have an idea what this bacteria can do for your body, it’s time to reassess your diet and include the above mentioned food types in your daily meals. In case you are thinking about taking a supplement, consult a doctor first.

Start Your Day Healthy – 5 Breakfast Foods That Offer the Best Digestive Support

Raise your hand if you are a morning person? If yes, then you are probably big on breakfast. However, as soon as you take that last bite, you feel bloated, just like a balloon. There’s no shame in admitting that after sometime you need a cup of coffee to poop. It’s high time you did something about this instead of relying on your good ol’ stretchy pants.

So, who’s the culprit?

It’s your digestive system in all its irregular glory causing cramping, constipation and bloating. When your stomach becomes sensitive to certain food types, the immune system, which is linked to your gut, starts acting up. This discomfort leads to inflammation and prevents your body from absorbing necessary nutrients such as minerals, amino acids and vitamins.

So, to kick start your day on a good note, we have come up with 5 breakfast food items that will support your digestive system and keep you healthy:

1.     Chia Seeds

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Chia seeds are considered as one of the super foods because it promotes bowel regularity. They are rich in magnesium, which promotes muscle contractions by smoothing the tissue around the intestinal wall. This allows you to remove waste from your system easily.

Chia seeds have a coating of phytic acid which takes longer to break once digested. By soaking Chia seeds in water, this coating softens, which keeps you satiated for a long time. This Chia Seed Pudding recipe features Chia seeds soaked in milk overnight to make a more thick and creamy pudding.

2.     Papaya

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The digestive enzyme “Papain” in papaya is what improves your appetite and boosts digestive function. While it helps in digesting nutrients, it also digests protein, which cleans your intestines. The good think is it can be eaten raw, cooked or blended to form a smoothie. This Papaya Boat with Granola and Yogurt allows you to make a healthy and delicious breakfast in just five steps.

3.     Pineapple

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The enzyme “Bromelain” in pineapple also aids in digesting protein. In fact, pineapple juice helps reduce inflammation of the GI tract. It is also believed that its juice can kill intestinal parasites that disrupt your digestive system. This sweet fruit can be used anyhow in salads, smoothies, and even chicken dishes. Here’s a great recipe for a Green Piña Colada Smoothie, which you can try with any type of leafy greens.

4.     Flaxseeds

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Flaxseeds are popular for their mild laxative effect that helps promote bowel regularity and relieve constipation. Flaxseeds also have soluble fibres that keep you satiated for a long time. It has various health benefits, including but not limited to controlled cholesterol level, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body weight. Here’s a recipe for Flax Seed Zucchini Bread that contains just 60 calories but is extremely fulfilling.

5.     Coconut Oil

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Coconut oil helps improve digestion and is much lighter than canola or sunflower oil. It contains lauric acid, which is an antimicrobial that helps destroy yeast and bacteria in your GI tract. Ever heard about coffee with coconut oil? Try this Coconut Oil Coffee recipe for breakfast and kick start your day with lots of energy.

So there you go… five delicious breakfast recipes that will not only improve your mornings but your appetite too throughout the day.